Importance of Trees: Part Three

These past couple weeks we have been exploring the different ways that trees are important to us. In part one of our series, we discussed how trees help mankind by providing increased biodiversity, absorbing solar radiation, and providing carbon sequestration. In the follow-up, we continued to discuss how these beautiful elements of nature provide air purification, water filtration and how trees improve our mental health. In this final installation of The Importance of Trees, we will dive into additional benefits that trees provide to both humans and our ecosystem.

Flood Prevention

Trees play a major part in managing rain runoff and flood prevention. First, trees help prevent floods, by providing a surface area where rain lands and then evaporates. Tree foliage intercepts rainwater and channels it down the tree’s stems and trunk where it soaks into the soil. This process helps rainwater penetrate the soil instead of flooding. Trees with broad foliage can reduce the force of falling rain significantly. Secondly, trees can help prevent floods with their root systems acting as a sponge. In fact, the USDA stated, “The typical medium-sized tree can intercept as much as 2,380 gallons of rainfall per year”.

Trees prevent flooding in all landscapes, urban or rural. In fact, a 2013 research study found that trees soaked up twice as must rain as asphalt reducing runoff by about 60%. As a result, trees are not just helping in the forest, trees are also playing a large role in lessening damage from flooding in cities as well.

Ground Stability: Prevents Soil Erosion

Soil erosion is present all over the world. You probably noticed it along coastal areas or riverbanks, or maybe along highways. It is a natural process, but the result of consistent erosion can result in severe environmental changes. Tree roots provide surface erosion protection and improve slope stability through the nature of their root systems.

The root systems of most trees consist of several large roots that branch out into smaller ones. These systems extend into the surrounding soil far beyond the reach of their branches. Tree roots typically grow more deeply than other plants and therefore provide a greater resistance to erosion. Tree roots hold soil in place and help to improve drainage.

Natural Screening

Trees can act as a natural fence and provide a screen of protection in any area. They also reduce sound and wind and act as a sight screen to provide privacy in some situations. Trees are a low maintenance and less expensive option than most traditional fencing. Beyond the practical use as a natural screen, the rich foliage of privacy trees will also add character and charm to any space.

Hopefully this series helped to illuminate why trees are so important to our environment. We should all be thankful for the benefits trees provide for us!

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